Interview of Pascal IGLICKI (Sports correspondent with the magazine Karate Bushido) by Serge TREFEU (2008)

serge TREFEU: Hello Pascal, how are you?

PASCAL IGLICKI: Very well

You are for a long time in the medium of the kick boxing as a sports correspondent; being younger have you practised a sport of combat?

As much I started with the judo, one will say that it is an obligatory passage, then I have make karate with my brother in Dojo Paris 18th and in Budo Club Paris 11th with the thick ones of the time, there were Herve DANIEL and Pierre BLOT. After I especially launched out in the body building, it was in the Eighties. That could make smile some but I had a good level, I training myself a long time. And parallel to that, I have made boxing Full Contact with Pascal LEPLAT (world Champion)

Do you have that during the Eighties?

Yes, I stopped the sport in 1991, the year of died of my father…

In did Full Contact boxing, you already fight?

Not, I do not have make of fight that training but I put on the gloves with guys who were not too bad. I put on the gloves with Leplat (world champion Pro WKA of Kick Boxing, Europe Champion Pro of Full Contact)

It was in which gym you remember it?

Yes, at the time this gym was called “the Gym of the Green path” in the 11th district of Paris, there was a swimming pool and one training oneself there. Pascal (Leplat) I knew it in 1982. It is funny because at the time I was body-builder and one it is known in a club of vacancy in Italy, one was the two only sportsmen of the club, and one became good friend. After one was back see on Paris and I dealt a little with him to find fights to him.

At the time was LEPLAT it already a great champion?

Yes, it had started with karate to pass in Full Contact boxing. It was one of very first French to meet Fred ROYERS (World champion of Kick Boxing, Champion of Europe of French Boxing, and World champion of Karate) in Full Contact!

What is what gave you the desire for making this trade, sports correspondent in kick boxing?

It is really a combination of circumstance, I always bathed in the sport but I was not make whole to be a journalist. At the beginning I was to be a mechanic, automobile electrician, you see that does not have absolutely anything to see. But I knew that I would not pass my life in a garage. Then when I left the school I have accesses worked in the advertising of many years. In made, all it is started with beginning of the year 80, it was into 83 or 84. With Pascal Leplat, Denis Travel, Djamel Laguerre which was a super fighter of the time, and a good friend with me Gilles, we are going on the city of Marseilles. Leplat was to fight Christian BATTESTI (4 times world champion Pro Full Contact, 9 times champion of Europe Pro Full Contact). Denis and me we coach the boys. Pascal loses at the points but make a large fight again Batttesti, Djamel had put to him flown at a local star which was called Eddy Bétiole. After the official receptions one found all with the organizers for eat out, it was already Erick Roméas (organizing of prestigious “the Night of the Champions”) which was Co-organizer with Jean-Claude Wustenberg. At the time, there was already a magazine which was called “American Boxing Magazine” and which was already with some numbers. Thus while discussing with the editors this magazine, they asked to me whether I wanted to be them corresponding on the spot to Paris as I had already connections with boxing Thai and Full. Because all occurred on Paris, boxing Thai, Full, in province it did not have large thing there. At the time, there was especially boxing Thai but also much from Full, the kick boxing it came afterwards. It left like that, I started to be the corresponding one for this magazine. Then with the wire of time one always found oneself at the close to of the boxing ring with a guy who worked for the magazine Karate Bushido with which I sympathized and who was called Jean-Paul Maillet. And in 86, as Jean-Paul was going to be blocked for reports which it was to make for Karate, it asked to me whether I could compensate it. I have say O.K and my very first paper for Karate Bushido, in 86, it was an interview of Christian Battesti who was to meet in Marseilles Yousef ZENAF (world champion of Full Contact). And my very first report of fight, it was the great come back of Rob KAMAN (world champion of Thai boxing, kick boxing and Full Contact) against Enerst Simmons! You see a quite heavy paper for my first reports, they were rather sympathetic…

How long time that you work for Karate Bushido?

In October 2008 that will make 22 years. Here I tried to bring full with thing, one cannot like everyone, but I do not think of having make bad job…

You often travel throughout the world for your reports, in particular to Asia, how much time has you be in Thailand and in Japan?

The first time that I left to Japan it was in 1995, I accompanied Jerome LE BANNER (World champion of Kick Boxing and Thai Boxing, Finalist of K1 Grand Prix in 1995 and 2002), it was for its very first K1. Since I went 45 times to Japan. In Thailand I went there the first time in 1993, and I have to go there forty times, and each time it is a great pleasure of going to Thailand and to Japan…

Can you speak to me about your first reports in Thailand and in particular those which you have to like to make?

When one speaks muay Thai, one immediately speaks fight, a boxing ring with guys who hit themselves but there is not that, there is a whole culture with full with thing being discovered behind and it is our job with us journalist to make discover all that. Of course, it is well to cover the great evenings which take place in Lumpini Stadium, in Radja Stadium, it important because that is always made dream the reader who cannot go there. Good reports, there are of them some which I liked to do grace in particular to Gilles LAMBOUX (first French has to create a gym in Bangkok), I always had good friends who switched me well on Bangkok and his area. Thus one of the good reports which I have do it was on children dealt with by Buddhist monks who formed them with becoming champions of muay Thai, they were really sympathetic. If Gilles had not taken me along over there I could ever have found the place. Another report thanks to Gilles Lamboux still, and there, I can say it I think that it is the truth, I am the first European journalist to have made a report on the Sor Ploenchit Gym, and it was in 1999. At that time nobody was to go in this camp, there were only two champions had entered it was DIDA and JAID. Me I m go there as a journalist and I discovered a fabulous camp, one would believe myself in Japan when one to enter in this camp…

Also at the time of the one of my first travel in Thailand (1995) I found myself in Sityotong Gym in Pattaya with Jo Prestia (world champion of thai boxing), Guillaume KERNER (world champion of thai boxing), JAID (world champion of thai boxing and kick boxing) and DANY BILL (8 times world champion of thai boxing). I benefitted from it to make a report with them with training. Very a good memory. At the time there was also Jean-Charles SKARBOWSKY (champion of Europe of thai boxing) but it was a very young class A.

In 2004 I left to Bangkok to the meeting TONY JAA. Well before the movie Ong Bak did not leave. I went to the Sakmongkol studio where Jaa training with its team of stuntman. When he saw my interpreter Jean-Charles Skarbowsky (classified N°1 in Radja in 2004), Jaa  immediately recognized for having him seen fighting on TV. One was to remain only 1:30 to make the text and the photographs and makes some summons us remained almost five hours with him. Still an excellent memory.

And of course as all those who likes Thai boxing, the reports on stadiums of Lumpinee and Radjadamoen. The first time or you enter the lumpinee stadium, you have the goose flesh! The lumpinee I have make it discover with my readers, not only the boxing ring, the interior, the system how that occurs and I have make the same thing for Radja stadium. Finally all the birthdays of the King which I could cover with Sami KEBCHI were of very, very good memories. Mentally it is necessary to be very strong to fight with the birthday of the King, they are very hard fight. The birthday of the King it is each time a new experiment. Our French was very strong with DIDA (world champion of thai boxing and kick boxing), NIKIEMA (world champion of thai boxing), SARI (world champion of thai boxing, champion of Lumpinee), DANY BILL etc All these guys there, they were really super. I have made full with other reports but those there were rather sympathetic…

Which are your best memories with the great champions Thai?

I remember one year or I left for Thailand and there was Somrak KAMSING, large star in Thailand, first Olympic champion of English who had just been dad. And with Stephan Nikiema one was to see it with the maternity where his wife had been confined. You know how it is Somrak, it is not easy to approach it, it is a large character, it was received by the King. And one was quiet there for us with him with maternity, they were sympathetic… Over there I also met Samarth PAYAKAROON, which I saw it is not very a long time, HYPPI also and I was likely to follow large the Star of the moment, SEANCHAI SOR KINGSTAR which is extraordinary and which besides before was called Seanchai Sor Kamsing because it boxed for the gym of Somrak. Champions I met some much but it is true to see Samarth Payakaroon, Hyppi, Seanchai, it is fabulous, it there from of full with other champions I all will not quote them… Also there is a camp which I adore it is JOCKY GYM.

Why you like this gym?

I like Jocky Gym for several reason, already I have good friends who it are training in this gym, which even lived over there, Jean-Charles Skarbowsky and Stephan Nikiema. And SOMAT the owner of the camp is somebody whom I appreciate enormously, I think that he also appreciates me because one is always glad to see oneself. I like environment in Jocky, it is a little decayed but it is what the muay thai in a pure state represents…

Can you quote us a fight in Thailand which has made you vibrate?

I saw very, very beautiful fight in Thailand but you know the level is such as the engagements are often tight. And Thai has a way of fighting which is not forcing explosive as in Europe, I speak in feel fight. But I saw full with beautiful fight in Lumpinee, Radja and stadium of Rangsit. Precisely to stadium of Rangsit, I remember, I saw a very hot fight, I were with Gilles Lamboux besides. One of the fighters takes a blow of elbow, it is open on the lip but maliciously, normally in France one stops the fight immediately. There the referee lets go again over the guy, and the guy takes again a blow of elbow on the lip, the bone in lower part was seen…

You remember the first official boxing show that you covered in the Nineties in France?

The first that be with Rob Kaman, it is a little the Top. But I believe that each discipline kick boxing, each generation brought something to me. I saw fabulous fight in each one of these generations. I was likely to follow generation’s former which were with my opinion a little bit less technical, no matter what, but they were super warriors…

Does the generation of today you find that they are less warriors?

Not less warriors but today it is more the same form of boxing, the stock is more important, the formation is not more the same one, at the time the guys they left boxing without thinking. I do not speak myself about the pioneers of Thai boxing like Roger PASCHY but of the guys like KOUIDER, brothers DESJARDINS, JAMI, Gilles TIROLIEN, Christian BAFIR and I forget some. They were hit of Dutch, of terrors which were already with the top, it was necessary to go there to face them in Holland in Amsterdam. Then immediately behind arrived of the guy like André RICHARD NAM, Bruno BENLABED, Stephan NIKIEMA, Guillaume KERNER, Jo Prestia, JAID, that goods, and I forgot also Philippe CANTAMESSI who had to us make vibrated by boxing this famous Thai with the Sport hall at the time of a large evening retransmission by TV Canal + and Co-organized by Jacques Séguéla! You see, this generation there, I feel very near to it… Much fight one makes me vibrate at that time. And in American boxing for example when my friend Pascal Leplat boxed, there I vibrated! There was also ROUFUS (world champion of Full Contact), THERIAULT (world champion of Full Contact) which were great champions of Full. And Ramon DEKKERS (8 times world champion of Thai boxing), one cannot speak about Thai boxing without speaking about Ramon Dekkers. There remained the live legend of the muay thai, everywhere in the world or I go one speak about Ramon even Thai, if there is well a name which is always quoted it is Ramon Dekkers!

Which fights best memory you until now?

There is full which have to me make vibrated.

You can say at least three to me?

It is difficult for the others but I would say in one, at the end of the Eighties, the fight of Pascal Leplat when he became world champion of kick boxing again American Ronnie Deléon, it was really great. In two, when Jerome Le Banner puts K.O Ernesto HOOST (4 times winner of K1) in 96, I was at the close of the boxing ring, they were fabulous. Hoost was with the top level and Jerome beat it, it was extraordinary this fight. Then in three it is still with Jerome, it was into 99 when it put K.O Peter AERTS (3 times winner of K1) in quarter of final of K1 with simply a hook of the left! It was nevertheless Hoost and Aerts! The fight of Jerome to Bercy also, imposing (Banner against Hunt). If not there is full with other fight which one makes me vibrate, I could you quote of it a package, Prestia, Dida, Jaid, Nikiema, they have to me make vibrated. There is full with the champions, I could not all quote them, is not necessary especially that some feel upset that I do not quote them, they brought all to me from the good moments…

Can you tell me how you met Jerome Le Banner who is very a good friend with you?

At the time I training myself in Richard Gods (deceased in August), “small thought for Richard”, and I was very friend with Rene Pollet, a guy of city Le Havre. Rene had some boxers with him, it did not have yet Jerome Le Banner there. In fact, Karate Bushido was street Gobert not very far from the gymnasium Japy. Thus a Rene day telephones to me and says to me, you should come in the gymnasium Japy Sunday for the championships from Ile de France from Full Contact, it was into 90. He says to me that there was a small young person who boxed and who it was necessary to go to see it because it was really not bad, and it was Jerome Le Banner. Here, for this day there with Jerome we have always remained in contact and it became a friend…

You followed much fight of Jerome Le Banner?

I have to follow 95% of these fights. The first in Japan I was in his corner, it was a combination of circumstance but I am not carried to him pitches it, the proof after it is gone back there and it became an immense star in Japan. I saw the majority of these fights and when I cannot go to Japan, he telephones to me of over there.

You organized some official show of boxing can you speak to us about it?

I organized official show, in the middle of the Eighties, not all alone obviously. I Co-organized official show in the Elysium Montmartre, a beautiful fight, there was LEPLAT (world champion of Kick Boxing) against ZENAF (5 times world champion of Full Contact) and Rocky BENACEF (world champion of Full Contact) against Richard SYLLA (world champion of French Boxing, Kick Boxing and Full Contact). Then I organized twice in gymnasium Japy, always with Pascal Leplat, it was my good friend. Fourth once I organized with Jean-Paul Maillet with the Arenas of the Agora for the championship of the world of Pascal Leplat. Concurrently to that I implied myself in organizations or the guys asked me. As official boxing show with the nightclub the “Engine” or the Parisian ones discovered Jerome Le Banner, people did not know it. If not with the promoters I have positive ratio. If one does not help oneself between us who will do it…

In is Thailand, what you know well Sonchaï, one of the largest promoters of the country?

Yes, I know it well, in more Sonchaï I had on the occasion to see it not only in Thailand but also in Las Vegas. It was with his wife and me I was with my wife. In all modesty I can say it, it appreciates my work, it already said it to me. It knows that I make good a promotion of his discipline and that I am a fine partisan of the muay thai. At the time, when it was in Lumpinee and that I arrived over there, Sonchaï passed from the instructions and I was as at home, I were at the house. Idem after when it was in Radja…

How do you today see it muay Thai, which are for you future “the star” of the discipline?

That is well ultimately, each generations brings its batch of champion, it does not have there a concern. One will not make a comparison with what they passed it there to 10 or 20 years. But there, it groped one there of young person who arrives, the changing it is there, it is clear. There is even as I do not know and which is surely excellent. Now those which one sees regularly, I excuse myself for those which I would forget, it is of the guy as Fabio PINCA and Mounir BOUTI. Fabio Pinca, it is very good fighter. Mounir Bouti, it sinned can be a little for lack of power but on the other hand it is a super technician, intelligent, almost Thai. MABEL and CAMARA also are good. Jonathan Camara is very good. Abdallah Mabel is a little more lazy, it knows it, I is already say to him, but it is super fighter. Abdallah it is Dany Bill but into worse, super fighter but a little lazy, moreover Dany he is idol him. There is full, full with young person, small Mehdi ZATTOU holds I also think of him, it is good, unfortunately one them occasion not to be expressed. There is no more as much of boxing show as before…

Precisely, that is what you think of the organizations of today, is what there will be again great official boxing show as in the Nineties?

I cannot answer this kind of questions too much, I am like the readers and the practitioners, I am on standby by hoping that occurs well. Me the advantage that I have, it is my job and if there is nothing any more in France, I can move to go to Belgium, to Holland, in Japan, to Thailand, here. For example the Netherlands, them, they took a considerable lead. They can assemble a show only with Dutch fighter! It is a little detrimental because in France there are goods fighters, one has a stock. But it is “while forging that one becomes blacksmith”, the training, the sparring it is well but there is nothing of such as the fight to progress. I think that is with all these leaders to be finally a little bit intelligent and to leave with all these young people the possibility of expressing itself… Me I am likely to be able much to move and the foreigners it do not understand too much that is what there is to France. The guy they say it to me, “Pascal you however have good fighters in France that this master key is what”…

For you currently, put aside are Thailand, which the country which organizes most beautiful evening in muay Thai and in kick boxing too?

As I have it to you say they are the Netherlands. Holland it is not today that they have an enormous culture in kick boxing. Already end of the year 70 and beginning of the year 80, they were already there. The Dutchmen they are far in front of us…

Which are the other country which become very good as regards kick boxing show and especially great fighter?

Yes, today the involved forces changed much. You have fighters of all the continents which become very strong, of Australian, News-Zealanders, the Japanese, Brazilian, Turks etc Now in Europe there are good fighters everywhere, before one said in Spain and in Italy, it was not terrible, today they is finished, the boxers have a very good level. Obviously, the Netherlands are the best, one cannot differently do, that somebody tells me the opposite, it is impossible. Here, and we in front France have really very good fighters and now one is with the drag whereas one has super champions, it is afflicting…

Can you speak to us a little about K1?

The first time that I went to Japan, it was in April 1995. Me, I was accustomed to the official receptions in the gymnasium of Japy, Coubertin, all that, they was already sympathetic and the official receptions small everywhere in France and Europe. But was the day or with Jerome (Le Banner) one found in Japan, there on the other hand one it is gripped, one it east say Hey!, that is what occurs? K1 it is enormous! Still when one arrived, it was the whole beginning of K1. It is true that today, the malicious gossip will say it but they are not wrong, they are a little drops some, it is the truth. But me I was likely to know “the top” of K1, they were fabulous. To say to you, in 1998, Jerome had signed a contract in English boxing with Don King and Christophe Courrège. And it had as trainer GIFT TURNER, you see who it is Don Turner, it is the person which prepared Evander Hollyfield inter alia, this guy it made the largest evenings of English boxing of the world. Therefore, Don Turner came with us in K1 and when he saw the opening ceremony, he made “My God! ”. He had ever seen that of his life! K1 it is extraordinary… When you arrive over there, they come to seek you with the airport, you are taken in hand immediately, they bring you in a hotel 5 stars, you have your envelope with your money in your room, I speak for the fighters. Me I have chance they well thus know me I was always received too. Not K1 it is incomparable! I would like to also make small a digression on a great fighter of K1. It is Cyril ABIDI (champion of France of kick boxing, 3rd with K 1 Grand Prix in 2000 and 2003) even if it did not make a career like Jerome Le Banner, it made a beautiful career in Japan, is nevertheless necessary to underline it. It made beautiful performance over there. It beat twice Peter Aerts, it beat Ray Sefo, François Botta. It met Hoost, Bob Sap, it hit the hardest fighters, it knows what it is K1, K1 it is not easy… I on the occasion to discuss with fighters the Falcon Gym (gym located at city Villepinte in the 93) which fought in opening to K1, and they was very hard for them, the level is very high. Now it is true that today, there are of them some which do not have anything to make in K1, I recognize it. With Jerome one says it, there was before and after Andy HUG (victorious of K1 1996, deceased in 2000). Here, for me K1 that remains the largest organization of the world in kick boxing…

In France there was beautiful boxing show too?

Yes of course, with Erick ROMEAS for example which is big, big, professional in this field. Also, Sami KEBCHI, one can find all the critics of the world to him, it is very good organizing. It gave us the largest fight which one wanted to see. If there had not been Sami Kebchi, Dekkers vs Kobal, Prestia vs Dekkers, Dida vs Kobal, Kaman vs Roufus, all that they would not be had them… One never should to spit in soup, even if that does not occur always well. Without this guy there would never have been all these great fights. It should not be forgotten that it is him which made come Seanchaï and Yod Seanklai, nobody did not know them front, with share the aficionado’s muay thai but good here…

I believe it that you are also commentator on TV Eurosport, can you speak to us about it?

I started to be consulting in TV Eurosport for “Fight Club” in 2002. An exercise that I appreciate and who allows me to tell anecdotes. It is for me a great pleasure of being able to comment on, perhaps displeases some with some. And I am a great pleasure to work with Charles Henri Odin and Samuel Pagall my two assistants and Co-producer of fight-club…

You want to add something to finish?

That the impassioned continuous one to assume their passions that it is in muay Thai, kick boxing, full contact and even French boxing which for me is one of best the schools of kick boxing. If not I have a small concern with Internet, I have a certain allergy for the forums on boxing or certain people want to remake the world all the time. Is necessary to stop hit themselves in the legs and going all in the same direction because unfortunately one is not to help by the media except TV Canal and TV Eurosport which diffuse something. Here is, and long life with your site. To finish I would really like dedicated this interview to Richard DIEUX who is given death last on August 11. He was an emblematic figure of the kickboxing and pioneer of the kick-boxing and my friend…

Thank you very much